Hi, welcome to my first blog of the school year! I've always enjoyed reading other people's "day in the life" blogs or watching vlogs on YouTube, so I wanted to give it another shot since the last one I did was way back in my first year during COVID remote learning. A lot has changed! This is definitely not what every day or even every Friday looks like for me, but it was busy enough and covers a lot of ground and I enjoyed taking "mental" notes and pictures throughout the day. Hope you enjoy!
8:15 am. My alarm is set for 8:15 am, which gives me just enough time to wake up enough to trudge over to my 9 am statistics class. I have statistics on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday at that time, which was definitely something that I worried about during registration last spring. Luckily, it is working out. My statistics class also includes a weekly lab using RStudio, and my professor often lets us complete this remotely, so we can do it whenever we want during the week and don’t actually have to attend Thursday’s in-person lab class. My morning routine isn’t too complicated. I wake up, brush my teeth, change clothes, and check my emails and texts before class. If I have time, I might also do some reading, either for class or for fun. You might have noticed that breakfast is not included on that list of things I do before class. Everyone’s mornings will look different. Some people absolutely have to get some food (and caffeine) into their systems before classes start. One of my friends frequently wakes up at 7 am to work out at the gym or go on a run before class. Some varsity sports teams may have early morning practices or lifts. Some people completely skip the morning and sleep past noon, so college is really about crafting the schedule that works for you and your needs.
10 am. The next class I have is BIOL 213: Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, and Biochemistry, which is one of two required core classes for the biology major here at Oberlin (the other being BIOL 200: Genetics, Evolution, and Ecology, which I took last spring). This is one of my favorite classes, especially because I have so many friends in the class!
Before this semester, many of my biology major friends were on different timelines and pathways within the major. Some I met while taking the introductory biology course BIOL 100: Organismal Biology or BIOL 200, while others I had met through living in Asia House, campus organizations, or through mutual friends. The point I’m trying to make is that we were all over the place and weren’t always taking the same classes at the same time. Now we finally are!
Over the years, I’ve definitely learned how important it is to make or have friends in your classes, especially STEM classes where you often have to complete problem sets, conduct lab experiments, and study for tests, which is more enjoyable with good company and people to lean on. Luckily, the majority of students at Oberlin are also looking for collaborative relationships in classes, so you will eventually meet the same people over and over again to work with and become friends with.
11:00 am. Next up, BIOL 202: Plant Ecology. My last morning class also counts towards my biology major and caused me a good deal of headache during the add/drop period, which occurs at the start of every semester for about two weeks and allows students to try out different classes and play around with their schedules before committing to the classes they will take for that semester. This year, I took the opportunity to sit in on several classes that I was curious about, even if I wasn’t registered for them, including Essentials of Epidemiology, Environmental Chemistry, Geology of National Parks, and Beginning Italian. I was really torn about taking Plant Ecology or Italian, because I’m interested in learning more languages and I had enjoyed the two Italian classes that I attended. Anyhow, I ended up taking Plant Ecology, because this class isn’t taught every year and introductory Italian is taught every semester since many Conservatory students take that class.
On Fridays, I have to pack a bag of bagels and a jar of peanut butter from Walmart for lunch, because our Plant Ecology lab leaves for nearby Chance Creek at 11:15 sharp. We basically hike around for nearly four hours, making observations about the local ecosystem and working on our group projects. We got to pick groups to conduct observational studies about a local species of interest; my group is doing the ash tree, which is especially interesting given the devastating decline in population due to the invasive emerald ash borer beetle. Lunch is whenever we want it to be, so some time around 1 pm, we found a dry spot by the Vermillion River to sit, snack, and skip some stones. I really enjoyed being forced off campus, into nearby natural spaces, and getting the chance to explore and just appreciate the surrounding beauty before the seasons change and it becomes much colder.
3:30 pm. All 12 of us meet the professor back at the van one hour before the lab actually ends, because we’re going to a nearby farm! Initially, I did expect to be halfway up an apple tree picking my own produce, but we mostly just peruse the farm stands laden with freshly harvested fruit and veg, which is also fun. I ended up getting a bag of nectarines and a jar of raspberry marmalade for my parents for about $10. For those who had forgotten to bring cash or another means of payment, the professor even offered to loan folks some money!
4:30 pm. When I got back to campus, I walked back to my dorm to finish my statistics homework and submit the assignment. Many STEM classes give out weekly problem sets, so every semester there will be a couple days a week when an assignment is due. Last fall, I had an organic chemistry problem set due on Monday at 11:59 pm and an organismal biology problem set due on Sunday at 11:59 pm. I usually try to do most of the problem set on Wednesday and Thursday night since my Fridays are so busy, but I might have a couple problems to look over before signing the Honor Code and scanning the pages as a pdf to submit to Gradescope. Several classes I have taken have used Gradescope for students to submit work and professors and student graders to grade and give feedback on assignments since it does not require students to submit their work in-person.
On Fridays, a few of the other dining halls are closed (yes, we have more than one dining hall!), so many students end up going to Stevenson or Stevie, the main dining hall on campus with all-you-can-eat buffet style options. Recently, my weekly schedule has changed slightly and I am at Stevie most evenings since I now work at German Table, a conversation table for students in any German classes or with an interest in German language and culture to drop by. I can’t remember exactly what I had, but I hope to soon post some of the meals that I have especially enjoyed recently.
At 7 pm, I headed over to Asia House to see some friends. One of my friends mentioned that our other friend Mia was participating in a Chinese poetry reading that many students enrolled in Chinese language classes would be performing at for their classes. This was held in Asia House, one of the theme and identity houses here on campus and where I lived last year. On the way over, I ran into my friend Laura and her friend, who were eating outside of Asia House. Both of them are in Pyle Inn, a co-op residing in Asia House. Last year, I was lucky enough to have been invited for Friday's Pizza Dinner, which was delicious! Getting invitations from people in co-ops is definitely a great way to try out different options and see whether co-op dining and life is for you.
At the event, there were also Asian snacks and treats offered, such as mooncakes and pastries. It turned out that one of our biology lab partners, as well as a friend who lived across the hall last year, were both helping to lead this event and it was so cool to see the linguistic and cultural diversity across campus.
After the poetry reading, a few of us went over to our friends' apartment in Firelands, a building complex that offers Village Housing usually for third-year students and above. This is how we often tend to spend our Friday evenings. There are lots of other things to do on campus, such as musical events like Fridays at Finney, athletic events, TGIF at Wilder Bowl, and house and club parties, to name a few. However, while I do like to wind down from a long and busy week with other people, I generally prefer a more relaxed atmosphere with activities like baking, talking, watching movies, and playing board games. This week, we baked banana bread using ingredients procured from dining hall locations or purchased at DeCafe in Wilder, where students can buy baking and cooking ingredients like flour and eggs. It was so much fun! We also watched the first Hunger Games movie, which I had not seen in years and some of the group had never watched before. There we were, chowing down on piping-hot banana bread and interrupting the movie to clarify a plotline or call out a character for a dumb decision, and it was the best. Around midnight, we wandered back to campus to head for bed, admiring the constellations and the tranquility of campus.
Thanks for coming along on one of the Fridays in my life. Sometimes I have more work to do than other days. Last Friday, I had several evening deadlines and fall break also began, so I mostly spent my time finishing up assignments in my dorm room. This year I feel like I have fully settled in on campus and am so appreciative of the relationships that I formed with the people here. However, I am a third-year and someone who started college during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic with remote learning, so my Friday nights haven’t always been so social or exciting. If that’s the case for you, please know that it is perfectly fine and that it takes time to form relationships and meet friends and have more plans. Reach out to people if you want to hang, but also take the time for self-care and doing what you want to do, regardless of how much fun it seems that people are having on social media. You'll be fine :)
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